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Bengals fall 29-26 to Dolphins in preseason finale

A thriller that came down to the final seconds.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals played their final preseason game on Sunday afternoon in Paul Brown Stadium.

As expected, this game heavily featured players lower on the depth chart. The starters on offense only played three plays, while the starters on defense didn’t play at all. Even the second team only played one full quarter on both sides of the ball.

With final cuts due in two days, Cincinnati wanted one last chance to evaluate their bubble players. Trayveon Williams, Jacques Patrick, Trent Taylor, Darius Hodge, and Trayvon Henderson all got significant snaps against the Dolphins. Unfortunately, their efforts fell short as they lost 29-26 to close out the preseason.

First quarter

Joe Burrow made his preseason debut against the Dolphins. He only played three snaps: two handoffs and a screen to Ja’Marr Chase, which the rookie receiver unfortunately dropped.

The Bengals rested their starters on defense, and they kept the Dolphins to a three-and-out on their first drive. On their next drive, however, the Dolphins put the ball in the hands of their running backs and marched down the field. Former Cincinnati Bearcats star Gerrid Doaks muscled his way for a one-yard rushing touchdown to the give the Dolphins an early 7-0 lead.

The next drive featured Brandon Allen and Chris Evans on offense. Evans converted a key third down attempt at the end of the first quarter to keep the drive alive going into the break.

Second Quarter

Evans finished the drive in style. The first play of the second quarter was a 29-yard touchdown pass to the rookie running back. Allen threw an absolute dime and Evans tracked it over his shoulder to haul it in right before the end zone. The Bengals quickly tied the game at seven points apiece.

Trayvon Henderson, who came in for the injured Brandon Wilson, set the Bengals’ offense up inside midfield with an interception. They didn’t score a touchdown, but Austin Siebert made a 36-yard kick to give the Bengals the lead.

The third-string defense entered the game for the last defensive drive of the half. Thanks to missed tackles and penalties, the Dolphins got down to the red zone where Doaks scored his second touchdown of the game. Doaks helped put his team up 14-10 in his homecoming right before the half.

The Bengals got one more chance to score before halftime. Evan McPherson attempted a 57-yard field goal, and completely crushed it. The kick was good his sixth field goal in the preseason in as many attempts, and the Bengals only trailed by one point going into halftime.

Third quarter

Kyle Shurmur was under center for the remainder of the game and went five-for-five on the opening drive of the second half. His fifth pass of the drive was definitely the most interesting. A quick slant to Stanley Morgan on fourth-and-three ricocheted off Morgan’s hands and ended up Trent Taylor’s, who took the ball all the way down to the one for a 45-yard gain.

From there, Jacques Patrick forced the ball across the goal line to give the Bengals the 20-14 lead.

Fourth quarter

Shurmur connected with Thaddeus Moss several times to get the Bengals back to the red zone. On third-and-six, Shurmer moved outside the pocket and fired a pass to Scotty Washington for a nine-yard score. The two-point conversion failed, but the Bengals still led 26-14.

It looked like a Kirk Merritt penalty would stall the Dolphins on their next drive. On the play after the penalty, Reid Sinnett aired one out to Merritt, who beat Antonio Phillips deep for a 43-yard touchdown pass. The Dolphins still trailed 26-21 with less than six minutes to go in the game.

The defensive line nearly halted the Dolphins on their next drive, but despite pressure from Darius Hodge and Noah Spence, Sinnett converted on fourth-and-15 for a Hail Mary to Chris Myarick. Myarick got his knee down in the end zone for the 34-yard touchdown, and Sinnett hit Malcolm Perry for the two-point conversion. The Dolphins led by three points, 29-26, with 1:21 left in the game.

Shurmur didn’t have much time, but he moved the offense down the field. A contested catch from Trenton Irwin and a penalty helped get the Bengals get to the Dolphins’ 32-yard line. Instead of trying for a field goal, Shurmur tried to get it to Washington on fourth-and-ten to give the ball back to the Dolphins with fifteen seconds left.

Despite the third-quarter lead, the Bengals dropped their third preseason game to the Dolphins. After the 29-26 loss, the Bengals ended the preseason 1-2.

The NFL takes a week off before Week 1, though the rosters will be down to 53 men by August 31st. The Bengals host the Minnesota Vikings on September 12th for the first game of the regular season.